Are cheat days good or bad?

Day 350

I am now 15 days from hitting one year for this weight maintenance blog. That sounds like a very good time to have a cheat day. And I will be having one and am fine with having to keep exercising hard to make up for that.

The headline of this blog article asks whether cheat days are good or bad. Not surprisingly, the answer to this is going to differ from person to person. But they are obviously going to have at least the one bad aspect to them – eating too much or at least eating the tasty and satisfying food that is not conducive to a healthy diet. Cheat days might be completely bad for some people and have no good aspects at all. For me, there is at least one good aspect. Of course, it’s not a physical benefit, but rather a psychological one.

In my experience, you sometimes have to celebrate to remind yourself that your new lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you like forever. However, I can only speak for myself here because some people may have different experiences.

In my case, I have committed to a new and permanent lifestyle that consists mainly of a lower-carb diet that also emphasizes less sugar. This also means not drinking cokes and other high-sugar-content drinks. The other main aspect of my new lifestyle is that I will exercise on a regular basis to help lose or maintain my weight.

These aspects must be balanced in a realistic way. For example, I obviously can’t run a marathon every day. But I can work out an average of more than an hour a day. This means I have to maintain a diet that allows that amount of exercise to help me reach and maintain my weight goals.

As part of this new lifestyle, I feel like rewarding myself with an occasional cheat day is actually good from a psychological standpoint. I have experimented and found that I can do this without causing long-term detrimental effects to my weight goals. However, it’s important to also know how many cheat days you can have because too many will destroy your efforts. For me, that is about 2 to 3 cheat days a month. This number might be different for you.

Now, let me explain why cheat days might be wrong for you or someone else who is trying to lose weight. Imagine a scenario where your plan permits you to take 2 cheat days a month. But every time you have a cheat day, you fall back into old habits, causing that one cheat day to become 2 or 3 cheat days in a row. You may start telling yourself, “Let me just have one more coke or piece of cake tomorrow.” And that one cheat day can become multiple cheat days, essentially causing you to fall off the wagon.

If you have a tendency to fall off the wagon because of a cheat day, that is when you have to consider possibly not having one at all. Fortunately, I have developed enough discipline not to do this. But I am not a huge eater to begin with. If you have a serious eating problem, cheat days might not be right for you because of this “falling off the wagon” scenario. Only you can experiment and make this decision.

Let me transition to today’s summary now. I started at 77.6 kg, and my max weight was around 80.1 kg. That is a pretty reasonable increase of 2.5 kg. As I say a lot, it’s good to be lower than that. But starving is not the answer. I ate what seemed to be the right amount, so there is nothing to improve on except the fact that I had two doughnuts. Of course, those were not good choices. But overall, this was not a bad day when it comes to diet.

I dropped to 79.1 kg overnight, but with about 3 hours to go to hopefully lose a little more weight before exercise time. Today, I don’t know how much I dropped between the 80.1 and going to bed because I failed to weigh again. But at this point, I don’t think the overnight numbers mean much since I have other things to rely on. The total increase during the day is more important for me. I probably am in some trouble of gaining a little weight today and am thinking of running 2 hours tomorrow if I do gain again today.

2 hours after getting up, I had dropped pretty well to 78.8 kg. So while this number is not that great overall, it shows progress. Regardless, I am doing a slower 90-minute run today. My body doesn’t have the energy for a hard run today. Hopefully, I can at least break even. But I feel that there is no choice but to run 2 hours tomorrow if I gain weight again today. I don’t do this often. But there are times when it is necessary. And we are approaching one of those times.

Luckily, I had a pretty good run and lost 1.1 kg. After that and hitting the bathroom, I finished at 77.5 kg. So I actually lost the minimum of .1 kg today, averting the plan to run 2 hours if gaining today. I’ll probably end up doing a couple of 2-hour runs in the next couple of weeks, anyway, to have a good finish to one year of this blog. I definitely would like to be around 76.0 or better for that. But as long as I am in the 77 range, I will still consider it a success. And reaching 76.0 is going to take a hot streak at this point unless I choose to work my butt off to burn the extra calories. Even if I don’t make it, 77 is only 4 pounds above the 75.0 target, which is very hard for me to maintain. Being within 5 pounds is good for me. As it startes to get above 5 pounds, that’s when I start to have a problem.

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